O'Brien: Secondary Making Strides

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media recently and discussed the secondary, his offensive line, and the progress of Russell Wilson.

How is the secondary progressing?
I think the guys that have played are showing that they have some idea of where they're supposed to be and what they're supposed to be doing. I think a couple of the freshmen, we're giving them an opportunity. It looks like they're pretty athletic; now whether they're going to be able to help us, I don't know.

But certainly the guys that played last year, if you put a tape on from last year at this time to now, there would certainly be a difference in the level they're playing right now.

Is C.J. Wilson emerging as a leader?
In the heat, it's hard to have leadership; everybody's gasping for air and sucking for water. The best thing about today is they made it through this one pretty good, with some pretty good enthusiasm, so I'm happy with that. But the leadership will express itself [with] the more comfortable they become knowing where they're going and what they're doing.

So I think right now that's the key for them, is getting lined up right, making sure they're in the right position, and make sure they understand where they're going and what they're doing. And the more comfortable they get with that, then I think leadership will start to express itself, with confidence.

Can you talk about the new classroom attendance policy?
I haven't even read it.

Can you talk about how important transfer students have been on your lines? You've got Akinnyi, Lemon, Mageo, Overgaard ...
Burgess, McKeen … yeah, there were definite holes in the line, on both sides of the line. We couldn't have survived without junior college kids. We're happy we found the right kids to come in here. Certainly, Akinnyi was a good get for us, Mageo has done a nice job and Overgaard gives us some options there on the offensive line that helps out because of his experience.

So we wouldn't have made it without JC transfers because of the depth that was here when we got here.

How has Overgaard looked?
He looks fine. He hasn't been an offensive lineman … I mean he was, but he really wasn't. He spent his time in junior college as an offensive lineman for the first time, but it's a little different out here than it was there, and he'd be the first to admit it.

Has Wilson moved on from looking like he's trying to turn the double play?
No he's still … I mean, that was in jest, c'mon. No, he's got a long way to go, I mean, you just don't come back and pick it up and do it. But we're about a third of the way through practice now, so we've still got two-thirds of the way to get ready to go play a game, and hopefully he'll be ready to do it by the time we start.

What are you looking for from the scrimmage?
I'm looking for enthusiasm. It's going to be more of a game, so penalties will come into play, so we better stay onside and not put ourselves behind schedule on offense or behind schedule on defense.

And see if we can get some turnovers on defense. I think that's something we've been stressing in practice, and hopefully we'll be ale to hold onto the ball. It's one of those things where it would be bad for the offense but good for the defense. We'll find out.

Is anyone starting to emerge at running back?
No, I don't think so. It's still a rotation, with everybody in there. So nobody has grabbed it by the throat now and said, ‘I'm the back.' So hopefully, we'll just keep working at it.

You mentioned that the freshmen were emerging in the secondary …
I didn't say they were emerging, I said we were working them back there. You guys … thank you [for correcting to say the freshmen looked athletic]. Amerson, Dontae Johnson and D.J. Green are the three freshmen we brought in.

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